Sony faces growing Fortnite backlash at E3

Fortnite Image copyright Epic Games
Image caption Fortnite's maker says the game has attracted 125 million players since it launched last year

Sony chiefs are under pressure to respond to complaints about "cross-play" restrictions imposed on Fortnite.

Gamers have discovered that if they had first played the title on a PlayStation console, they are unable to use the same Fortnite account with the newly released Nintendo Switch edition.

This prevents them from being able to make use of outfits and other in-game purchases and rewards they had accrued.

There is no such limitation when moving between the Xbox One and Switch.

Gamers were already unable to share a Fortnite account between Microsoft and Sony's platforms.

Image copyright Getty
Image caption Sony and other games companies are showing off new titles at the E3 games expo this week

But the appeal of the Switch is that its portable nature allows owners to play when away from home, and so many have bought it as a second games machine.

Sony has yet to confirm it is responsible for the constraint, but it issued the following statement to the BBC.

"We're always open to hearing what the PlayStation community is interested in to enhance their gaming experience," it said.

"With... more than 80 million monthly active users on PlayStation Network, we've built a huge community of gamers who can play together on Fortnite and all online titles.

"We also offer Fortnite cross-play support with PC, Mac, iOS, and Android devices, expanding the opportunity for Fortnite fans on PS4 to play with even more gamers on other platforms."

"We have nothing further to add beyond this at this point," a spokeswoman added.

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Media captionWATCH: Fans flocked to Fortnite's first live event on Tuesday

Both Microsoft and Fortnite publisher Epic Games have previously indicated that the Japanese company had chosen to prevent PlayStation gamers competing against other console owners in the title's multi-player fight-to-the-death Battle Royale mode.

Global hit

Sony has faced criticism for blocking cross-play in other titles in the past, including Minecraft and Rocket League.

But the sheer scale of Fortnite's success means the backlash has the potential to be more damaging this time round.

Image copyright Nintendo
Image caption Fortnite was added to Nintendo's online store earlier this week

Epic said this week that the title has amassed 125 million players worldwide.

And Nintendo has announced that its free-to-play version of the game was downloaded more than two million times in the 24 hours after its release on the Switch on Tuesday.

Complaints about the matter are already threatening to overshadow Sony's publicity efforts at the E3 video games show in Los Angeles.

Image copyright Epic Games
Image caption Much of the profit from Fortnite comes from its sale of in-game outfits

Each time it posts news about its latest releases to Twitter and Facebook, people have responded by demanding that it allow them to share their Fortnite logins and permit cross-play.

The PlayStation 4 is the strongest selling console of this generation by a large margin, but one industry watcher said that this did not make it immune to attack.

"Sony has got to be very careful about how it manages the situation," Samantha Loveridge, associate editor of GamesRadar+ told the BBC.

"Fortnite is absolutely massive and it's only going to get bigger - it's about to come to Android - so Sony has got to start thinking about its closed-garden ecosystem.

"One way or another, gamers deserve an explanation as to why this compatibility issue exists."

Image copyright Getty
Image caption Nintendo is showing off its version of Fornite - which is limited to the Battle Royale Mode - at E3

Sony does allow compatibility with the PC and iOS versions of the game, indicating that the Xbox/Switch block it is a strategic choice rather than a technical impossibility.

While gamers await comment from the PlayStation firm, its rivals have piled on the pressure.

When asked about the matter, Nintendo's North America chief Reggie Fils-Aime told the IGN news site: "What competitors do is their decision to make. We believe being both developer-forward and fan-forward is in the best interest of the game."

And one of Microsoft's gaming chiefs as well as one of its corporate accounts have also tweeted about the issue.

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